BERLIN (AP) — Several thousand people rallied Saturday in eastern Germany to protest the ousting of a popular state governor by lawmakers from a far-right and two centrist parties.

Speakers at the union-organized rally in the German town of Erfurt strongly criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democratic Party for the role their state lawmakers had in removing the governor.

The candidate of the Free Democratic Party, or FDP, unexpectedly received a majority when the Thuringia state legislature voted to choose a governor on Feb. 5. Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany party also backed the FDP nominee instead of their own candidate.

The decision by Christian Democratic Union lawmakers in Thuringia to vote alongside Alternative for Germany members was widely condemned as breaking the taboo against cooperating with far-right parties.

The move led to the resignation of several German politicians, including Merkel’s heir apparent, Annegret-Kramp Karrenbauer. The leader of the Christian Democrats in Thuringia also announced he would step down from his post.